STILLWATER – Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph hit 20 of 24 passes for 303 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns in the season opener against Tulsa.
Rudolph cemented his reputation as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in the 59-24 win over Tulsa in Stillwater last Thursday night.
“I thought coming into it they were probably the most talented team I’ve seen them have,” said TU coach Philip Montgomery. “They have a lot of weapons. Their quarterback is playing great and it doesn’t look like they missed a beat.”
Rudolph had four passes of 40 yards or greater (77, 49, 44 and 40 yards) and three touchdown drives that took less than 33 seconds each.
“He is a great quarterback,” Tulsa safety McKinley Whitfield said of Rudolph. “He is probably going to be a top-10 draft pick this year, in the first round, I would imagine. He passes the ball well and reads the defense well. He is probably one of the best quarterbacks I have seen or played against in a long time. He is a competitor.”
Rudolph has thrown 147 passes without an interception and he passed Zac Robinson for second place in OSU’s career completions list.
Rudolph, who finished with a quarterback rating of 230.6, will lead his team in their road opener with a rare Friday night game at 7 p.m. at South Alabama.
South Alabama had an opening game upset win over Mississippi State last year but came up short last week to defeat Mississippi. The Jaguars lost 27-47.
“We saw some really good receivers tonight and I know that [Oklahoma State] has some really good ones as well,” South Alabama coach Joey Jones said after that game. “(The Cowboys) also have the number one quarterback in the country. They are going to throw it and run a hurry-up offense every snap.”
OSU’s All American wideout James Washington caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
“I feel like it doesn’t really take a lot of time to get in a rhythm again,” Washington said. “We have so many guys and we all have that connection with him across the board. Just like Coach (Kasey) Dunn always tells us – when your number gets called, be ready to go out and make a play.
“We showed tonight that all of the hard work and preparation that we put in during the offseason has paid off.”
OSU had 640 yards of total offense against Tulsa with 308 passing and 332 rushing. It was the Cowboys’ sixth straight win over their in-state rivals. Running back Justice Hill had 132 yards rushing and a touchdown. J.D. King added 95 rushing yards and L.D. Brown had 92.
“I liked our explosiveness when we started the game. We have a lot of explosiveness and we have a lot of guys that can make plays,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “We’ve got receivers that can catch it and running backs that can run it pretty good. That’s not a secret. I thought our defense played great. We gave up a lot of yards late in the game, but for the most part I thought they played really well with the exception of third and long, which is unusual. They were healthy through the game, which is important, and we got to play a lot of players.”
“I thought our special teams were okay. Matt Ammendola rushed that field goal at the end. He’s really fast and you can see how the ball hooked, kind of like with your golf swing. I thought our punting was good. We’ve got a long ways to go. Obviously it’s a good start. Even though we’ve got a veteran team, you’re always nervous for the first game. You don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Gundy saw room for improvement.
“We have to do a much better job at taking care of the football,” said Gundy. “Those things frustrate me. In order for us to have the season that we would like to have, we have to take care of the ball and we essentially gave them 10 points. Those things frustrate me.”
OSU kick returner Jalen McCleskey retreated after fielding a kick and fumbled in the end zone and TU scored a touchdown.
“(Jalen) McCleskey knows better than that,” Gundy said. “His ball security was absolutely terrible and that’s something that we’ll continue to work on. Mason (Rudolph) knows better than to do what he did. Scrambling out of the pocket, playing in a two-minute situation, he’s got to throw the ball away. I was not pleased with that, offensively. Our guys know that we don’t crack back in blocking below the waist. I don’t know that we’ve ever done that. Then we had procedure penalties with two veteran guys. Those are things we have to clean up in order for us to continue to play well.”
“Our defense needs to do a better job on third and 20. I don’t know what it was, I don’t have the stats, but they had to have been 80 percent at third and 10 or more. They worked hard to get them at third and long and to stay on the field.”
OSU Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich sees areas that could be better.
“By no means did we play a perfect game,” said Yurcich. “We’re going to chase that perfect game and can’t turn the ball over. Just minor things that actually turn into big things. We have to make sure that we get better every day. I don’t think you can sit here and gloat about anything. You have to learn how to improve and that’s the process and that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s not a challenge with our guys because our guys are team guys. They understand that somebody might get eight catches one game and they may only get two. It’s really dictated on what the defense is giving you and it’s important that the quarterback knows where to distribute the ball.”
OSU Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer was pleased with the run defense.
“We did great stopping the run, did a tremendous job,” Spencer said. “I don’t think they had anything on us. They had a 55 yarder but take that away and pretty good night with a team that fancies itself on running the ball.
“We have to find answers. We have to get more disciplined in our pass rush lanes, all that’s correctable. Nothing schematically really hurt us at all. But it was just the effectiveness of their quarterback running the ball and losing contain a couple of times. (We) had a lot of tremendous stops out there though.”
Oklahoma State has won nine out of their last 10 games.